Happy New Year!!! The pattern continues in 2018 with equities; the Dow Jones Industrial Average has sailed past 25,000 for the first time as the bull market rages on. Stocks rallied around the world on signs the global economic expansion that pushed benchmarks to records in 2017 remains intact. Locally, the Australian stock market recorded a strong performance this week, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gaining 1% to 6120. The index is trading near the highest level in nearly 10 years at 6080. Energy, Materials and Telecom were the best performing sectors, rising 3%, 2.8% and 2.5%, respectively. REITs and Utilities on the other hand failed to impress this week.

In corporate news, healthcare stocks were strong following news that Australian producers will be able to export medical cannabis products. Billabong International has recommended that its shareholders accept a formal buyout proposal of A$1 per share from Boardriders, the owner of Quicksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes. Bega Cheese shareholders have approved the institutional placement component of a A$160 million capital raising last year. DuluxGroup in an announcement said its majority-owned joint venture company DGL Camel International has agreed to sell most of its coatings business in Hong Kong and China to Yip’s Chemical Holdings.

Asian stocks are also on the cusp of their best week in almost six months as investors around the world pile into equities at the start of 2018 amid robust economic data from the U.S. to Europe to China.

The Australian dollar advanced against its subdued US counterpart, with help from continuing strength in commodities. Since hitting a 6-month low on 8th December 2017, the Australian dollar gained as much as 4.6% to US$0.7853. The U.S. dollar is headed for a fourth straight week of losses as the global economic expansion spurs investors to look at markets with lower valuations and better risk-return prospects. Commodities steadied after a record run of gains, with oil trading close to its highest in three years.

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